Marilyn Jager Adams

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Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams (born December 14, 1948) is a specialist in cognition and education. She holds the position of Visiting Scholar at Brown University.[1]


Adams received a Ph.D. from Brown University in cognitive psychology and developmental psychology[when?]


Adams chaired the Planning Committee and was a member of the Study Committee for the National Research Council's report, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (1998). She has been on the Planning or Steering Committee for National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading Assessment since 1992. She was on the Advisory Panel for the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) and has been given responsibility with developing a vocabulary module for the 2013 NAAL. She is working on this task in collaboration with Kathryn Spoehr, of Brown University .

Adams was Senior Author of the Kindergarten and Grade 1 levels of Open Court Publishing Company's 1995 reading and writing program, "Collections for Young Scholars"; the research-documented efficacy of this program (Foorman et al., 1998) was an impetus for the focus on better classroom reading programs within the Reading First component of the No Child Left Behind Act.[citation needed]

Adams was the Principal Scientist of Phonics Instruction of Scholastic Inc.’s phonics intervention and foundational reading program “System 44”; which combines research-based phonics instruction with adaptive technology. She also designed the continuous scope and sequence for Scholastic Inc.’s K-2 foundational literacy program, “iRead”; which draws upon her experience as an architect of the Common Core State Standards to ensure that every student leaves second grade on a predictable path to college and career readiness.

Other instructional resources of which she was principal author are "Phonemic Awareness in Young Children" (1997) for emergent and remedial reading students, CTB/McGraw-Hill's "Fox in a Box," an award-winning, standards-based literacy assessment kit, and "Odyssey: A Curriculum for Thinking," a research-validated program on thinking skills originally developed for the Republic of Venezuela.

Adams has served as Literacy Advisor for "Sesame Street" and has been Senior Advisor for Instruction for PBS's "Between the Lions" since its inception. She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences Department at Brown University and Chief Scientist at Soliloquy Learning, a software company which she co-founded in 2000 to use automated speech recognition to support learning to read. The firm's software is called the Soliloquy Reading Assistant. The Reading Assistant software was acquired by Scientific Learning in 2008.

In 2013, :[2] she published what is probably her best-known book, ABC Foundations For Young Children, in which she presented evidence proof that most American children finishing first-grade still can't name and write all of the alphabet letters. Her other books include the landmark book, Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print (1990).


Adams was cited in the 2001 Politics of Education Yearbook as one of the five most influential people in the national reading policy arena (McDaniel et al., 2001). She is the recipient of the American Educational Research Association's Sylvia Scribner Award for outstanding research.


  1. ^ Brown University directory entry [1] Accessed May 16, 2016
  2. ^

1. Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

2. Adams, M. J., Foorman, B. R., Lundberg, I., & Beeler, T. (1998). Phonemic Awareness in Young Children: A Classroom Curriculum. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

3. 3. Foorman, B.R., Francis, D.J., Fletcher, J.M., Schatschneider, C., and Mehta, P. (1998). The role of instruction in learning to read: Preventing reading failure in at-risk children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 37-55.

4. McDaniel, J.E., Sims, C.H., & Miskel, C.G. (2001). The National Reading Policy Arena: Policy actors and perceived Influence. Educational Policy, 15, 92-114.

5. National Reading Panel (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

6. National Research Council. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.


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